An Olsen twin using a Starbucks cup to hide from the paparazzi, by Laura Collins.



Peep This Art Show Dedicated To The Olsen Twins Hiding From Paparazzi

Over the past week, the Internet was delighted by a particularly wonderful piece of art news. A new Brooklyn exhibition was seeking crowd funding. The twist? It focuses on paintings of the Olsen twins trying to hide from the paparazzi, using Starbucks cups and Blackberries and Birkin bags to hide their fraternal visages. Various news outlets rightfully went apeshit. We’re sure this thing will be funded in a New York Minute, but there’s just So Little Time. Maybe a Billboard Dad will help make it a Full House. We apologize. It’s just too easy.

Literally titled “The Olsen Twins Hiding From the Paparazzi,” the art show will be put on by Viviana Olen and Matt Harkins, the gloriously twisted comedic minds behind the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Museum. I paid a visit to the museum last year (it’s located inside Olen and Harkins’ Williamsburg apartment) and it was truly a transcendent experience, filled with art and memorabilia dedicated to the most gorgeously fucked up scandal in Olympic history. But it was time to change it up. As they wrote on the Olsen Kickstarter page, “It’s important for museums to feature new artists and work that discusses important cultural events. This is how Museum’s [sic] ‘keep it fresh.’ We are a museum.”

In addition to the actual paintings, by Chicago-based artist Laura Collins, the exhibition will feature various events, including a past-life regression seminar, because “celebrities love past-life regression,” a symposium on The Real Housewives, and a reading of Olen and Harkins’ screenplay, which focuses on Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, and Marlon Brando going on a road trip after 9/11. Glorious.


(L) An Olsen twin hiding behind a notebook (R) IRL inspiration

Olen and Harkins got in touch with Collins after she contributed a drawing of Tonya Harding’s mug shot to the museum. “We saw [her paintings on Instagram] and we were just like, ‘Oh my god. How is this not in a museum?’ And then we were like, ‘We have a museum,’” said Olen. She and Harkins wanted to do something on the Olsens after news broke about Mary-Kate’s 2015 wedding to Olivier Sarkozy.

“It was last year on Black Friday,” said Harkins. “And two days later, these articles popped up in Vanity Fair and The New York Post about the wedding having bowls and bowls of cigarettes, and that you couldn’t even see across the room because of the smoke! You never read about stuff like that anymore. Especially with weddings, it’s always like, ‘Everyone was so down to Earth!’ This was the total opposite.” Both Olen and Harkins assured me that when a space is secured for the exhibition (the Tonya Harding museum/apartment is too full at the moment), it will also be filled with bowls of cigarettes.

“I like how the Olsen twins live in a tower that we’ll never see.”

“We like the Olsen twins because they don’t pander to us,” said Olen. “They don’t pretend we’re in the same world as them. It’s a little obnoxious when stars are like, ‘I’m just a down-home person.’ No! You two have a private jet! I like how the Olsen twins live in a tower that we’ll never see.” Nothing speaks more to the twins’ rarefied air then their much-lauded clothing line, The Row, which I once surreptitiously touched at Barneys. All the clothes are so soft. So soft. “I love it,” said Harkins. “Head-to-toe sweater!”

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(L) Another Olsen rendered in paint. (R) A painting from a series of runway models falling down.

But Collins has a slightly different perspective on her series than the curators. “I watched Full House every day after school, and my mom would always tell me, ‘Oh, you always looked like that little girl on that show,’’ she said. “I think I just connected with them, being the same age as me, and wondered how completely opposite their life is to mine. I think I like thinking about the similarities. We’re 30-year-old women who are white with blond hair, and the same kind of body type, living in America, but our lives are just so completely different. I guess I just like thinking about that.”

Most of Collins’ work focuses on celebrities and pop culture in general, including some particularly hilarious paintings featuring models falling down on runways. But it all comes from a positive place. “I’ve had a lot of people, in my opinion, misinterpret my intentions and say that I’m making fun, or that I’m pointing out mistakes and laughing,” she said. “But I feel like I so sympathize with that person, that figure, that’s feeling so alone and exposed. So I think that painting those is a way for me to pay tribute to that sadness that happens when you fail [publicly].”


Kylie Jenner.

For anyone who loves pop culture, Collins’ work is heaven-sent. “I paint people like Paris Hilton and Real Housewives, and I genuinely care about them as people,” she said. “I’d really love to be their best friends, and I don’t mean any harm or to poke fun at them. I really just do it as a study of flaws and a way to say that it’s okay when bad things happen.” As someone who routinely fantasizes about organizing Khloe Kardashian’s fitness closet, this hits close to home.

These paintings kind of remind us that everyone, even the Olsen twins, is just trying to get through the day. “I remember one time, [the Olsens] came to Las Vegas, where I’m from, and it was like ‘Meet Mary-Kate and Ashley!’” said Olen. “So me and my friend Janet went to this theme park to see them, and it was like, so exciting. Then you wait in line for three hours, and when you finally get to the front you pass by them and they’re so tired and sad. You meet them for two seconds, and they hand you fan club information. I was so hyped up for it, but then I saw that. “

“I just felt so terribly,” she continued. “I think it’s fabulous that as adults they’re like, ‘We don’t want to be on social media, we’re just going to do our thing.’ They’re quoted all the time about how inaccessible they want to be and I’m like, ‘More power to you, you did your work.’”

Help make The Olsen Twins Hiding From The Paparazzi a reality, on Kickstarter, and check out Laura Collins’ website for more of her work.

Stay tuned to Milk for more pop culture and art combos.

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